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How to Write Answers for Civil Services Mains Exam

The UPSC exam is conducted in 3 stages- Prelims, Mains and Interview. While it is essential to leave no stone unturned while preparing for any of the stages, the Mains exam is actually the one which can make or break the game when it comes to you making to the final merit list. One of the biggest mistakes that candidates make while preparing for the UPSC exam is that they keep waiting for prelims to get over, in order to start preparing for CSE Mains. This gives them very little time to practice answer writing and as a result they end up scoring less in the descriptive type papers for UPSC Mains. The key to scoring more in the Mains stage of the UPSC exam is being able to reproduce your knowledge on paper as effectively as possible, given the paucity of time and word limit allowed for attempting each answer. While a good grasp over your UPSC syllabus is paramount to ace the CSE Mains paper, the following UPSC answer writing skills can definitely come in handy for you to improve the presentation of your answer.

How to Write Answers for Civil Services Mains Exam

Tips for answer writing in CSE Mains

  • First and foremost it is very important to understand what the question is asking. You have to answer according to the question’s demand rather than beating around the bush. Writing vague points just to meet the word limit will not fetch you any points.
  • For instance if there is a question of ‘Feminist Movement in India’, you can begin your answer by defining what is feminism. Follow it up by elaborating the course of feminist movement in the Indian context and conclude the answer by discussing its impact, both positive and negative.
  • While writing answers in the UPSC exam, you need to make sure that your answer is balanced and you do not come across as overtly critical in your approach. Make it a point to end the answer on a positive note so that the evaluator gets the feeling that you are an optimistic person, which is an extremely essential trait for any administrator.
  • One of the other UPSC answer writing skills is that if you are pointing out a problem in your answer, try coming up with a possible solution for it. This will prove to the examiner that you are a problem solver at heart rather than a mere critic.
  • Adhering to the word limit becomes important because if you spend too much time answering one question, the quality of your other answers would suffer. Remember, that even if you write a flawless answer, you cannot get more than the maximum marks allotted to it. So divide your time judiciously while attempting the answers. Also, try your best to leave no question unattended.

The biggest myth for UPSC answer writing is that you need an exceptional vocabulary for acing the UPSC exam. The answer writing in UPSC exam is meant to test your analytical abilities and administrative acumen rather than your command over the English language. So avoid using very flowery language while writing your UPSC exam answers. Focus on writing quality content in simple language instead of throwing useless jargon.

How to make your presentation better in UPSC exam

Writing in bullet points is another important UPSC answer writing skill which helps you present your content efficiently and makes it an easy read for the examiner too. Try to get into the shoes of the examiner and realise that the evaluators of the UPSC exam answer sheets have to go through thousands of copies, having the same content which can turn out to be a very dreary job. The evaluator will hence be pleased if he is quickly able to go through your points and mark your answer rather than going through long paragraphs of vague information, hunting for the points he’s looking for in your answer.

The golden rule of brilliant answer writing for UPSC Exam is to underline the keywords. While some people try using different coloured pens for highlighting the important points, this might result in to you wasting your time unnecessarily. So use your discretion while deciding your mode of highlighting.

The UPSC exam is extremely competitive and it is at the CSE Mains stage that you can actually gain an edge over your fellow competitors. Hence don’t neglect your CSE Mains preparation and practice writing answers to as many questions as possible, before the final day of UPSC exam arrives.

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